In its first year in the Central Connecticut Conference, the Avon football team has taken its lumps.
In Week 5 vs. Bloomfield, the Falcons played just 14 players due to pneumonia wreaking havoc on the team.
And when it comes to injuries, left tackle Andrew Marshall and right guard Liam Russell have already been lost for the year to ACL injuries.
Just to add to the list, right tackle Max Kritikos missed the second half of the Bloomfield game due to an unknown allergic reaction.
The week six bye couldn’t have come at a better time as the Falcons had time to get healthy for their biggest game of the season.
On Friday at Sage Park in Berlin, Avon will play the CCC Division III East leading Redcoats. A game that will likely decide the division champion.
Despite the lack of recent history between the two programs, this is one that Avon has been looking forward to.
“In the CCC we’re playing teams with history,” Avon coach Jim Caouette said.
The Falcons in fact do have a history with Berlin and it goes all the way back to 1965 and the now defunct Northwest Conference. The two programs played yearly from 1964 to 1995. From 1965 to 1984, the Redcoats won six NWC titles while Avon won four, including the two sharing the conference crown in 1983.
Avon moved onto the North Central Connecticut Conference in 1987 and won seven straight conference titles before moving again to the Nutmeg Football League and renewing the rivalry with Berlin. But this time it was one-sided in favor of the Redcoats.
From 1994 to 2004, Berlin won seven league titles then the most recent split happened. Berlin moved to the CCC and Avon to the Pequot.
The overall record between the schools is 27-11-1 in favor of the Redcoats.
The most recent game between the two programs came in the 2009 Class M semi-finals. Berlin won the game 35-28, but Avon rallied with 14 points in the fourth quarter to make it that close. That was also the last year John Capodice and Berlin won a state title.
And although he doesn’t know Capodice personally, he does know what to expect out of one of his teams.
“They’re well-coached, physical and fundamentally sound,” Caouette said. “They don’t miss tackles.”
That what keeps the Redcoats defense as one of the top in the state year in and year out.
The 2014 team that played in the Class M-Large championship game didn’t allow more than one touchdown in any game other than the finals vs. Brookfield — in which it allowed two, one on defense.
In fact, the Redcoats haven’t allowed more than one touchdown in a regular season game since the start of 2014.
That type of dominance makes Avon an underdog role, but it feels like it has the playmakers to compete.
Quarterback Ian MacDonald has be a “nice surprise” to Caoutte. He has some solid targets in West Point bound tight end Geoff Kirk and wide receiver Sean Del Gallo.
“He doesn’t look [menacing] when he gets off the bus,” Caouette said of the 5-foot-9 Del Gallo. “But he makes plays.”
On defense, the Falcons have a defensive force as well: Teddy Allmendinger.
“I think he’s one of the top inside linebackers in the state,” Caouette said.
But the key to an Avon win on Friday is three-year starting center Dean Zacchio. He has the experience and will need to lead the O-line to give Allmendinger room to run and MacDonald time to throw against the stout defensive unit.
Caouette says if his team can catch a break and hopefully control the clock, they will have a good chance in this one and it would be a huge victory in the history of Avon football.
“If we beat them I don’t think they will lose again this season and that will give us valuable playoff points to hopefully help us into the playoffs,” Caouette said.
Avon currently ranks 14th in the Class L playoff picture where seven teams are still undefeated. So this is a must win for the Falcons and it won’t be coming easy.
This story has been edited to reflect the history of the Avon-Berlin football rivalry. Thanks to the commentors for the heads up and Gerry deSimas Jr. of CollinsvillePress.com and Avon Football Online for the statistics and history.
Around the CCC
South Windsor beat Platt 30-27 on Thursday for the Bobcats first win over a CCC D-II opponent since 2012. …Southington is the highest scoring team in the state at 55.8 points per game. …Richard Williams of Wethersfield scored five touchdown’s IN THE FIRST QUARTER vs. RHAM. …Nate Richam-Odoi ran for 300+ yards and six touchdown’s in Conard’s win over Manchester. …After losing week one to Berlin, Bloomfield has won four straight and leads CCC D-III West.